Stocks fall as Apple warning raises China virus concerns

Alex Veiga
AP Business Writer

New York – U.S. stocks fell in afternoon trading Tuesday after technology giant Apple became the most well-known company to warn of a financial hit from the virus outbreak in China.

The maker of iPhones said it will fall short of its revenue forecasts in the fiscal second quarter because production has been curtailed and consumer demand for iPhones has slowed in China. Apple’s stores there are either closed or operating on reduced hours.

Technology stocks accounted for a big slice of the selling. Apple shed 2.7%. Some chipmakers, which also rely heavily on China for sales and supplies, fell. Intel shed 1.7%.

Banks and energy stocks also fell. HSBC said it will cut 35,000 jobs and shed $100 billion in assets. Its shares dropped 5.6%. Wells Fargo slid 2.9% and Schlumberger dropped 3.3%.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.55% from 1.58% late Friday. Crude oil prices fell 0.5%.

Communication services stocks and utilities held up better than most of the market. Dish Network climbed 2.8% and Xcel Energy rose 1.6%.

Keeping score: The S&P 500 index fell 0.4% as of 1:41 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 212 points, or 0.7%, to 29,185. The Nasdaq dropped 0.2%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 0.4%. European and Asian markets fell.

China outbreak: The viral outbreak that began in China has now infected more than 73,000 people and continues to hurt businesses worldwide. The majority of the cases and deaths remain centered in China.

Businesses continue to feel the economic impact from the virus. The Beijing auto show, the industry’s biggest global event of the year, is being postponed indefinitely from its April date.

Apple is the latest company to warn investors that the virus will hurt its financial performance.While the projected revenue miss took Wall Street by surprise, some analysts played down the long-term impact of the iPhone production delay on Apple.

In a research note Tuesday, Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley said that Apple continues to perform strongly across all business lines, including iPhone 11 demand outside of China.

“Despite the lowered near-term iPhone sales estimates, we believe Apple remains on track to reach this target,” Walkley wrote.

Technology and health care companies have been the most vocal about mentioning the new coronavirus in their earnings conference calls, according to FactSet.

Lots of Benjamins: Financial services company Franklin Resources jumped 7% after saying it is buying competitor Legg Mason for $4.5 billion. The deal will create a financial company with a combined $1.5 trillion in assets under management. Legg Mason shares vaulted 23.9%.

Week ahead: Investors face a shortened week because of Monday’s President’s Day holiday, but there are still several key earnings and economic reports on tap.

More than three-quarters of the S&P 500 has already reported financial results, and 51 companies are scheduled to release results this week. Devon Energy and Concho Resources will report their results later Tuesday. Progressive will report results on Wednesday and ViacomCBS will report on Thursday.

The government will release its producer price index for January on Wednesday, along with housing starts data.

AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.